It was a truly momentous climax to the 2009 Championships as the 27-year-old Swiss became the most successful man in the sport. Sampras, previous holder of that title, had been an unannounced surprise visitor to Wimbledon where he has not been seen since 2002.
In terms of match time, it was not quite as long as last year s battle between Federer and Rafael Nadal, but it soon took on similarly epic proportions. And for much of the match, it seemed that Roddick would emulate Nadal's feat as he hammered away at his opponent. Federer wavered a few times, but never toppled and in the end won on merit. He returns to number one in the world, too, by way of yet another win bonus.
That this was going to be a contest between two big blasters was evident from the opening game, when Roddick slammed down two aces and in the next Federer replied with a couple of his own. That Federer had won 18 of their previous 20 matches was not a consideration on this day. For a start, Roddick, white cap pulled low over his eyes, was clearly a fitter and slimmer version of the man who had already lost to Federer in two Wimbledon finals, and he matched Federer stride for stride, shot for shot, ace for ace as they hurtled through the opening set, completing 10 games in just 25 minutes.
So to the deciding set, with Federer threatening to strike early as he reached break point for the sixth time in the match, only to be frustrated again as the American pumped down his 20th ace at 138mph. With no tiebreak in the fifth set, this one had to be played out. And so it was, amid mounting excitement and with Federer beginning to show the first signs of uncertainty.
This reached a climax as Federer faced two break points at 8-8, only to serve his way out of trouble and as the games ascended into double figures for each man the set became the longest fifth set in Wimbledon's history.
Federer's ace count passed the 50 mark and then, finally, it was Roddick who cracked in the 30th game of the set. Three mishits off the frame indicated he was fatigued and when Federer was offered the first Championship point he grabbed it eagerly, leaping into the air with joy as another Roddick mis-hit sailed long.
Full match with BBC TV commentary.